Nothing conjures up glamorous and romantic images more than the French Riviera. As you probably figured after reading our overview of Nice, Nice France is the undisputed Queen of the Riviera, the major destination on this stunning stretch of coastline. Nice is now more beautiful than ever, with recent renovations from Victor Hugo to Via Massena to the Vieux Ville sprucing up many of the tourist areas. Whether you want to relax on its incredible beaches, stroll along the Promenade des Anglais or shop for fruits, vegetables, or spices at the Cours Saleya with its incomparable scents and sights, this idyllic part of southern France is the perfect place to spend a day, a week or, if you’re lucky enough, even longer. Let’s look at some of the best places to visit while you’re in Nice.
Promenade des Anglais
This is the place to go in Nice for experiencing the fascinating diversity of the beach and its visitors. It’s full of people walking, cycling, skating, and even riding Segways. This 4 Km stretch is one of the most famous stretches of beach in the world. There are often special events held on the Promenade, such as the annual Nice Carnival in February.
The old town of Nice is full of quaint and historic buildings, walkways, and alleys. It also has ample choices for shopping and dining. There are old Baroque churches and well-preserved 18th-century homes. The neighborhood gives you insights on how the area looked centuries ago. At the same time, there’s a modern touch with bars, clubs, and restaurants.
One of the highlights of the old town is a huge open air food and flower market called Cours Saleya. This is a culinary paradise where you can find all kinds of produce, spices, meats, desserts, and more. The flower market is an incredible sensory experience of diverse colors and fragrances. On Mondays, the market features antiques and other non-food items.
Colline du Chateau
Colline du Chateau or Castle Hill is one of the best places to get panoramic views of Nice and the Baie des Anges. It’s a steep climb of 300 steps to reach the top or a lift that takes you most of the way up. At the top, you’ll find castle remains as well as a modern playground for kids and a picnic area.
Place Massena, the city’s main square, is the part of Nice that divides the old and new towns. The area features neoclassical buildings, immaculately maintained gardens and dancing water spouts. At night, the square is brightened by a modern art installation of seven statues that light up. There are many shops, cafes, and restaurants nearby as well.
This museum, dedicated to the French painter Henri Matisse, has one of the world’s largest collections of his works. Matisse, known for his large landscapes and Fauvist style, was an extremely influential painter whose long career spanned a good portion of the early 20th century. The museum is in a beautiful historic building right next to the ruins of a Roman amphitheater.
Russian Orthodox Cathedral
The St Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral in Nice opened in 1912, a gift from the Russian Tsar. This traditional Russian church is an interesting contrast to the surrounding Mediterranean architecture. You can explore this beautiful cathedral on your own or take a guided tour. The church enforces some traditional rules, such as no photographs.
Musee Marc Chagall
The Chagall Museum in Nice, which boasts the world’s largest collection of Marc Chagall’s works, was curated by the painter himself. The exhibits largely feature his Biblical paintings. You can learn more about his works from the audio commentary via headphones, available in English as well as French.
Promenade du Paillon
One of Nice’s newer attractions, this large urban park is now a scenic spot to relax, enjoy a picnic, let your kids play or admire the stunning views of Nice and the sea. Both children and adults enjoy getting sprayed by the fountains, which shoot streams of water high into the air, on hot summer days. There’s an elaborate play area for kids as well.
If you enjoy exploring historic churches, you won’t want to miss the Franciscan Church and Monastery of Nice, which has an active monastery where Friars live as well as a museum. You can walk the tranquil grounds and enjoy the spectacular gardens. The monastery also has a cemetery where Henri Matisse is buried.